As an HOA board member, you are tasked with a great deal of responsibility. You are making decisions within the best interest of the community; therefore homeowners often have a lot of feedback and suggestions. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re not careful. Here are a few ways to improve communication and build stronger relationships with members:
1. Set Expectations
Homeowners often expect board members to be available all the time, but it’s important to maintain balance between personal, professional, and volunteer life. You have other commitments outside of the HOA, so set boundaries. If a member approaches you at your child’s soccer game or while you’re out shopping, politely let them know that you’re not handling HOA business right now, but that they can email/call/visit you at X time. You may have some regular hours set aside to deal with association issues.
The board should also set clear expectations regarding communications. If someone calls or emails, what is the turnaround time for response? Are there certain channels or forms that should be used when addressing specific types of issues? Let homeowners know so they can follow proper processes and procedures and receive a timely response that effectively addresses their question or concern.
2. Think Before You Speak
It can be easy to give an off-the-cuff response when a member asks a question, or to respond in the heat of the moment. Take a moment to stop and think before replying. You want to remain professional and give as accurate of information as possible. Make sure that your response aligns with the association’s governing documents and is a positive reflection of the board and HOA.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say, “I’ll Get Back to You”
You don’t have to have all the answers immediately. If you’re not sure about something, rather than sharing incorrect information, let the member know that you’ll get back to them. Make sure you get their contact information and follow up in a timely manner, even if it’s to tell them that you’re still working on things. You may need to talk to the rest of the board or the property manager or consult the HOA’s governing documents before giving an accurate response. Just make sure that you maintain regular communication with the member until things are resolved so they know their concerns haven’t been overlooked.
Too often people listen to respond rather than listening to understand. You’re so busy thinking of what you’re going to say in reply that you weren’t really paying attention to what was actually said. Don’t assume that you know what the problem is or what someone is going to ask. Take the time to focus on what they are saying and ask questions for clarification if necessary. Get all necessary information before responding. And sometimes people aren’t looking for a solution, they just want to be heard and acknowledged.
Serving on the HOA board can be a very rewarding job because you get to meet a lot of people and make positive changes that benefit the community. So make the most of your role by enhancing your communication efforts and providing honest, timely information. If you need help managing basic inquiries, partnering with a property management company like Kuester can be an effective solution. Contact us today to see how we can help.